Practice? We’re Talkin’ Practice

From the Sidelines

“We talkin’ about practice. NOT A GAME. Not the game that I go out there and die for, and play every game like it’s my last. Not the game.” –Allen Iverson, NBA point guard and Hall of famer.

I suppose every athlete at some time doesn’t see the urgency in practice.  Practice is repetitive, and pre- season workouts can be hard, and boring.  It’s the same drills all the time, and the coaches yelling about your form and execution.  Practice makes perfect, it has been said, but improper practice, or a lack thereof, is worse.

The reason I bring this up is because I watched the first week of the NFL season this weekend.  I love football as most of you know, but what I observed this weekend was just a shadow of football.  It looked like practice, and some of the practice was awful!  In recent years, the NFL in its never ending search for the American dollar, decided to add another game to the 16 game schedule, and reduce the amount of pre-season games to 3.

I do realize that the NFL when it comes to televised sports is the big dog, and people can’t seem to get enough of it.  The NFL is ever expanding overseas, and it has been very well accepted, so in the future, you will see teams overseas becoming NFL franchises.  It is about growing the game, but don’t kid yourselves, it’s also about adding dollars to the NFL.

By adding teams and games, the NFL will have to either add a lot more players, or cut the amount of pre-season games.  The reason is simple:  20 games now, plus post season will take a terrible toll on the human body.  So, something has to give, and it will be practice sessions and pre- season games.

If, like me, you watched the games this weekend, you saw some atrocious football.  It was a comedy of errors; missed tackles, missed blocking assignments, missed field goals, poor passing, dropped balls, fumbles, and questionable coaching.

If you were a season ticket holder, I think you should be reimbursed for the difference between a pre-season game and a regular season one!  What I watched was a lot of pre-season mistakes this first week!

The point I am trying to make is this; a lot of teams did not let their starters play one down in the three pre-season games, and it showed.   Injuries can happen anytime, but pulled muscles and hamstring injuries can be limited by getting used to the grind of football.

This is the second year now that coaches are not allowing starting personnel to play in the pre-season because of a fear of injuries.  I get that.  I also noticed a lot of players calling for a replacement because they were gassed and needed a small break.  However, I think that allowing some playing time in pre-season, maybe a quarter a game for the starters, would be much more beneficial than displaying the sloppiness that was displayed this week.

Allen Iverson is no different from any other athlete when it comes to practice.  Practice is boring, so let’s just hurry up and get to the games.  I get that too.  But, after watching 2 years of the NFL starting off as Junior High football for the first game, I think some coaches should be embarrassed and want to fix it.  Let’s face it, this made the coaches look incompetent too! (Denver’s Nathanial Hackett made some REALLY questionable decisions last night!)

My suggestion is let the starters get used to getting hit, seeing what defenses and offenses will present, and let them play some real football to get acclimated.  If they don’t, we will see the product we saw this weekend, and that was not professional football.  It wasn’t worth the ticket price.  That’s the way I see it from the sidelines.

Commissioner Mike Stegall

Mike Stegall / Correspondent

Mike Stegall is a GHS alum and played on the Green Wave's only undefeated football team. Served 27 years as an OHSAA football official and currently serves as a Darke County Commissioner

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